Paranormal television

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Paranormal television is a genre of reality television. Its scope comprises purportedly factual investigations of paranormal phenomena, rather than fictional representations found in such shows as The Ghosts of Motley Hall and Ghostbusters, or cartoon/children's series such as Scooby-Doo and Rentaghost.


Accounts of supernatural occurrences have always been common in the print media. The 1705 pamphlet "A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs Veal" by Daniel Defoe is a well-known example. Local TV news programs in the UK and USA have featured ghost stories since the 1960s. Paranormal television arose from this tradition.

One of the earliest paranormal TV shows was In Search Of..., hosted by Leonard Nimoy which ran for six years from 1976. Rod Serling was originally slated to host the series, but he died in 1975. In Search Of... explored many paranormal topics, including UFOs, cryptozoological creatures (cryptids), lost civilizations, and other mysteries. Though the subject matter gradually lost popularity, the show gave way to future TV series following the same genre.

Ghostwatch, a fictional news broadcast about a haunted house in the UK that aired in 1992, created controversy when a majority of viewers believed the televised show was real.

Discovery Channel started to explore the genre with some success from 1996. The Fox Broadcasting Company had a news-style oriented show, Sightings, that was hosted by Tim White and this show lasted for six years. MTV's Fear premiered in 2000, establishing the visual look and editing style followed by most paranormal reality television show. In 2002, the British satellite channel Living TV launched the ghost-hunting series Most Haunted. Its success helped spawn other shows on the channel, including Dead Famous and Jane Goldman Investigates, and the channel developed a distinctive identity based on paranormal programming. The production company responsible for these programs, Antix, also produced two series of Spook School which followed the investigators of Para-Projects as they teach members of the public how to become paranormal investigators themselves.[citation needed]


Noting the recent trend in reality shows that take the paranormal at face value, New York Times Culture editor Mike Hale[1] characterized ghost hunting shows as "pure theater" and compared the genre to professional wrestling or soft core pornography for its formulaic, teasing approach.[2]

LA Times staff writer Ed Stockly wrote that "the paranormal/supernatural-investigation subgenre that has cropped up on cable television over the last few years, which includes Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters International and a few others" promises to "take a skeptical approach in its investigations and to rely on science to confirm or disprove paranormal claims. So far not one has been able to consistently keep that promise."[3]

Examples of programs[edit]

ProgramOriginal Run Years (Premiere–Finale)Original Channel/Network
6ixth Sense with Colin Fry2002Living TV (UK)
Alien Mysteries2013Discovery Channel (Canada)
Ancient Mysteries1994–1998A&E
The Antiques Ghost Show2003Living TV (UK)
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World1980ITV
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe1995ITV
Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers1985ITV
America's Haunted Castles2005Travel Channel
Beyond2005Space (Canada)
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction1997–2002Fox
Creepy Canada2002–2006OLN (Canada)
Celebrity Ghost Hunt2011Biography Channel
Celebrity Ghost Stories2009–presentBiography Channel
Crossing Over with John Edward1999–2004SyFy
Dead Famous2004–2006Living TV (UK)
Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns2005-2006Living TV (UK), Travel Channel
Destination Truth2007–2012Syfy
Encounters (UK)2014-presentYouTube (UK)
Encounters: The Hidden Truth1991Fox Network
The Extraordinary1993–19967 Network (AUS)
Extreme Paranormal2009A&E Network
Extreme Ghost Stories2006ITV1 (UK) (2007 on WE tv in the USA)
Exploring the Unknown1999Saban Entertainment, Fox Kids
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files2010-2012Syfy
Fenómeno2000RTP2, Mínima Ideia (Portugal)
Fortean TV1997–1998Channel 4
Ghost Adventures2008–presentTravel Channel
Ghost Hunt2005–2006TV2 (New Zealand)
Ghost Hunters2004–presentSyfy
Ghost Hunters Academy2009–2010Syfy
Ghost Hunters International2007–2012Syfy
Ghost Lab2009–2011Discovery Channel
Ghost Mine2013Syfy
Ghost Stories1997–1998FOX Family
Ghost Stories2009–2010Travel Channel
Ghost Story2006(UK)
Ghost Trackers2006YTV
Ghosthunters1996Discovery Channel Europe
Ghostly Encounters2009–presentViva/W Network (Canada), A&E Network, Biography Channel
The Girly Ghosthunters2005Space (Canada)
The Haunted2009–2011Animal Planet
Haunted Collector2011–2013Syfy
Haunted Houses: Tortured Souls & Restless Spirits2005Biography Channel
Haunted Highway2012-presentSyfy
Haunted History1998–2008History Channel, Biography Channel
Haunted History2013-presentH2
Haunted Homes2006ITV
(America's) Haunted Hotels2001–2005Travel Channel
Haunted Lighthouses of America2006Travel Channel
Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories1991–1995CBS, UPN
A Haunting2005–2007
Discovery Channel
Destination America
Haunting Evidence2006Court TV
I'm Famous and Frightened!2004Living TV (UK)
In Search Of...1976–1982
Investigations of the Unexplained2007Travel Channel
James Randi: Psychic Investigator1991ITV Granada
Jane Goldman Investigates2003Living TV
Killer Contact2013SyFy
Miracles and Other Wonders1990s
Monsters and Mysteries in America2013-presentDestination America
Most Haunted2002–2010, 2013-PresentLiving (UK), Paranormal Channel (UK), Travel Channel, Really (TV channel) (UK)
Most Haunted Live!2002-2010Living TV (UK), Paranormal Channel (UK), Travel Channel
Most Terrifying Places in America2009-2010Travel Channel
MTV's Fear2000–2002MTV
My Ghost Story2010–2013
Biography Channel
My Ghost Story Asia2012–Biography Channel (Asia)
Mystery Hunters2002–2006Discovery Networks, YTV
(Official site)
2011–presentRTV Oost (Netherlands)
One Step Beyond1959–1961ABC
Paranormal?2005National Geographic Channel
Paranormal Challenge2011Travel Channel
Paranormal Cops2010A&E Network
Paranormal State2006–2011A&E Network
Paranormal State: The New Class2010A&E Network
Paranormal Witness2011–presentSyfy
Patrick Macnee's Ghost Stories1997
Proof Positive2004Syfy
Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal1996–2000(Canada)
Psychic Detectives2004-2008Court TV
Psychic Kids2008-2010A&E
Psychic Witness2005Discovery Channel
Raaz2009Rohi Tv (Pakistan)
Scare Week
(Teasers/Previews at youtube)
2013Beat 102 103
Scariest Places on Earth2001–2006ABC Family
Scary...But True2001Syfy, YTV, Chiller
Scream Team2002Living TV
Sightings1992–1997Fox Network, Syfy, syndicated television
The Sleep of Reason with Steve Bell2007Studio Universal
Spook School2007–2008Unexplained Channel, Antix Productions
Strange But True?1993–1997ITV
Strange Universe1996UPN, syndicated television
That's Incredible!1980–1984ABC
The Othersiders2009–2010Cartoon Network
The Other Side2014–presentAPTN (Canada)
The Unexplained2009Biography Channel
The UneXplained2011Biography Channel
True Horror with Anthony Head (2004 TV series)2004Discovery Channel UK
Truth or Scare2001–2003Discovery Kids, The Hub
UFO Abductions1991
Unexplained Canada2006Space
Unexplained Mysteries2003–2004syndicated television
Unsolved Mysteries1987–1997
Spike TV
Weird or What?2010–presentDiscovery Channel
History Television (Canada)
Weird Travels2003–2006Travel Channel
World's Scariest Ghosts Caught on Tape1990sABC
Wuh kya hai? (also written as Woh kia hai? etc.)2009–presentExpress (Pakistan)
Åndenes Makt (Power of the Spirits)
(Official site)
2005–presentTVN (Norway)


  1. ^ "Mike Hale, Editor, The New York Times". New York Times Knowledge Network. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Hale, Mike (December 10, 2009). "Consigning Reality to Ghosts". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "TV Skeptic: 'Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files' looks at the real 'Battle of L.A.' -". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-07-14. The show is a part of the paranormal/supernatural-investigation subgenre that has cropped up on cable television over the last few years, which includes “Ghost Hunters,” “Destination Truth,” “Ghost Adventures,” “Ghost Hunters International” and a few others. Each promises to take a skeptical approach in its investigations and to rely on science to confirm or disprove paranormal claims. So far not one has been able to consistently keep that promise. 


  1. ^